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'The Grandmaster': A Punched-Up Kung-Fu Saga
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:22 pm    Post subject: 'The Grandmaster': A Punched-Up Kung-Fu Saga Reply with quote

'The Grandmaster': A Punched-Up Kung-Fu Saga

The American version of director Wong Kar-Wai's new film tells a different story than the original version.


Cinema snobs have been suggesting that the U.S. version of "The Grandmaster," Wong Kar Wai's art-house kung-fu film that opens on Aug. 23, is dumbed down from the original version that made its debut in China earlier this year. It has been edited so Americans can understand what's happening amid all the dreamy photography, Chinese history and martial-arts action. This push for clarity isn't necessarily a bad thing, although Mr. Wong and his film's stars put it another, kinder way during their visit to New York this week.

"The U.S. version is more straightforward and linear," Mr. Wong explains. "The Chinese audience is more interested in experiencing the history. In the U.S., it's more about the story."

"I think it's wise for him to do a version for Americans," says Tony Leung, who plays the lead role of Ip Man, the real-life Chinese martial arts grandmaster of the early 20th century who famously was Bruce Lee's childhood instructor. "It's much easier for them to follow."

"In my opinion, I like the American one," says Zhang Ziyi, who in her role as the headstrong Gong Er is Ip Man's (fictitious) romantic interest and fighting rival. "It's clearer. Easier for foreigners."

American fans of import films have learned to brace themselves when overseas arrivals like "The Grandmaster" debut here, hoping that the releases aren't neutered edits of the originals. Like many successful Asian movies in recent years, the film is presented in the U.S. by the Weinstein Co., whose co-chairman Harvey Weinstein has earned the nickname "Harvey Scissorhands" for his insistence that foreign films he distributes be chopped up and remixed to become more amenable to Yankee tastes. (Mr. Weinstein declined to comment for this story.)

Mr. Wong and members of his cast believe many references in the original version might be simply lost on non-Chinese audiences. Mr. Leung says the movie in its original state reminded him of the martial arts novels he grew up reading. "But Westerners can't connect. They don't have this culture," he says. So the U.S. version is less about Chinese tradition and more focused as a narrative about Ip Man.

Some directors are less than thrilled when American distributors request significant alterations. But Mr. Wong's film-building style lends itself to this sort of culturally customized editing, and he says he embraced it. Mr. Wong, whose work as a director/writer includes "Chungking Express" (1994), "In the Mood For Love" (2000), and "2046" (2004), is known for deciding how to arrange the pieces of his films in the editing room, long after the cast and production crew have gone home.

"There's no script. You don't know the schedule," says Ms. Zhang, known for her roles in Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and Zhang Yimou's "Hero." "Every day before shooting we will get two pages. When we were doing '2046' it was handwriting. Now he's typing."

The Asian version of "The Grandmaster" is 130 minutes long. The European version that premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February is 122 minutes. The U.S. cut is down to a tight 108 minutes. "I took it as a challenge," Mr. Wong says. "Instead of doing a short version, I wanted to do a new version. I wanted to tell the story in a different way."

Zhang Ziyi, the co-star of the blockbuster "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and China's biggest female star, offers a sneak peek at her new movie “The Grandmaster,” directed by Wong Kar-Wai. Check back in to for the full interview.

Filming on "The Grandmaster" started in 2009 and consumed 22 months over three years, ending last September. Mr. Wong was inspired when he saw Bruce Lee on a magazine cover in 1997 and later saw a film (then rare, now on YouTube) of an elderly Ip Man displaying some of his moves. Mr. Wong announced his Ip Man project 10 years ago. Meanwhile, action star Donnie Yen has made two films portraying Mr. Ip, and director Herman Yau has made two films about Mr. Ip, nearly turning the martial arts master into a movie superhero. Mr. Wong's only prior martial-arts film, "Ashes of Time" (1994), was a swordsmen-in-ancient-China story about a loss of chivalry. It was produced before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China, when fears of a break from the past were rife. Mr. Wong came to see "The Grandmaster" as another way to examine how traditions are passed down, or sometimes lost, in an age when China is aggressively modernizing.

The fight scenes remain mostly the same, stylized but with real thump, less ethereal than those in "Crouching Tiger." Much else in "The Grandmaster" has been rearranged for American viewers. Ancillary characters are diminished. Subtitles are tweaked to streamline the plot, which involves rivalries vying to replace an old grandmaster, their coming together during the Japanese occupation that began in the late 1930s, and a romance.

"We were able to replace some of the scenes, specifically in relation to the historical context, with clear and concise captions and narration to help the audience understand the challenges faced between North and South, and especially during the Japanese invasion, " Mr. Wong says. Historical exposition near the beginning of the Chinese version is excised and relegated to a flashback near the end.

"The first 30 minutes of the film are about the old grandmaster, before his retirement, coming to the South. He's going to offer a chance to a local fighter," Mr. Wong explains, laying out a story line he hopes Americans can sink their teeth into. "He's almost like Apollo Creed in 'Rocky.' "

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wong Kar Wai: The Grandmaster on The Grandmaster
Posted: 08/15/2013 8:13 am
John Lopez

Wong Kar Wai will go down in history as one of the greatest filmmakers ever to wield a wide-angle lens. Don't believe me: ask Martin Scorsese. Wong's early films -- Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, Happy Together to name a few -- pushed cinema to places that made even Tarantino jealous; and In the Mood for Love might be the dictionary definition of heartbreak. (You haven't seen it!? Netflix it tonight.) If you're an art house junkie, any work by Wong Kar Wai, even a BMW commercial, is an event. So when word got out several years ago that the maestro of poetic regret was finally making his long-planned king fu movie about Ip Man, the grandmaster who trained Bruce Lee, it meant film nerds would be spending the next few years in painful anticipation. (It can take Wong a while to make a film; Chungking Express was made while he took a "break" from his elliptical wuxia epic Ashes of Time).

Finally, the wait is over. The Grandmaster arrives in America August 23rd, every bit as lush, beautiful and poetic as all us hopeless cineaste romantics had hoped. Yes, it's pretty much In the Mood for Kung Fu, but in the best possible way. Hong Kong heartthrob Tony Leung plays Ip Man, and Zhang Ziyi is the deadly Bagua-trained beauty who captures his love and admiration. Under Wong's direction, they weave a story that transcends the usual flying fist conventions to become a philosophic meditation on legacy, loss and China's tumultuous 20th century history. And don't worry there's plenty of kung fu: all of it shot with painful poetry and terrible beauty, choreographed by another cinematic master Yuen Woo Ping. Suffice to say, when offered the chance to speak to the master, there was no hesitation.

Q & A (Questions & Answers):

Q: Mr. Wong, congratulations, it's a beautiful film. I love how it fuses kung fu with epic romance. Ashes of Time notwithstanding, kung fu is new territory for you. How did you decide to jump from art house to martial arts?

A: Actually, I was always fascinated by Chinese martial arts because I grew up on a street full of martial arts schools. I never had a chance to practice it because in those days the schools were associated with Triads, so not many parents encouraged their kids to practice martial arts. But I was always curious: what's happening there. In those days, the martial arts schools were not like the martial arts schools today, with big windows and white uniforms. They were very dark and mysterious. At the end of the film you see there's a kid standing outside Ip Man's school. In the film it's Bruce Lee, but it's really me. This film gave me the opportunity to look through this window, to find out what exactly is Chinese martial arts and what's so great about it.

Q: I read you toured China, hunting down elusive martial arts masters to interview them about their schools and philosophies?

A: Well, without that trip it wouldn't be possible for me to make this film because it really changed my perspective about what exactly martial arts means. During this journey I realized in China today there's two forms of martial arts: the one encouraged by the government, competitive martial arts. There's no "school"; it's a combination of different skills and it's closer to sports, for the Olympics. Traditional martial arts exist only privately among individuals. I remember one day I went to a small town in central China -- it's the winter time, 5 o'clock in the morning -- because I had heard there's a great master there. So, I tried to track him down and I finally found him outside of a train station. It's snowing, it's still dark, and there is this master in his 70s with his students there practicing. There were around 30 people and they'd been doing this for years every morning like that. But I noticed the youngest of his students was 55.

Q: 55!?

A: The reason is they can only focus on the practice when they get retired. So, you can see actually the tradition of martial arts is not in very good shape in China. That's the reason why [the masters] were so supportive, because they never asked for money or credits. They shared with me the secret of their skills, did demonstrations, they even fed me! It's because they are one with this film and hope this film will bring awareness. China has gone through big changes in the past twenty years, but I don't think the modernization of China can be merely a Westernization. It's about time for us to remember our heritage. And Chinese martial arts are more than just fighting techniques; they are systems and philosophies that we should preserve.

Q: Well, it shows. This film isn't just people beating up on each other.

A: (Laughs) Yes.

Q: Since this film is so much about legacy, I'm curious: who do you think the Grandmaster of cinema is?

A: It's an interesting question because we talked about this among ourselves. If we had to find a grandmaster in cinema, who would it be? Finally, we ended up with an answer. I think if we had to find a grandmaster, I would say it was Sergei Eisenstein because he's the person who invented montage. And most films today use montage to express their ideas. A few months ago, I was promoting the film in Moscow and I actually went to the apartment of his wife. And I saw all his storyboards, and the way he structured everything -- his apartment is amazing!

Q: So you got to be the starry-eyed pupil once again.

A: (Laughs) Right!

Q: Speaking of storyboards, I imagine working out the choreography with the great Yuen Woo Ping was a new experience for you. Did it change your filmmaking process, or affect how you came up with your signature visuals?

A: Yes, of course. When you take artists like Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung, they are not like action stars, they don't have a martial arts background. But I wanted them to perform all their actions themselves. So, in fact, all the action has been carefully choreographed, not only with Yuen Woo-ping but with the grandmasters on set.

Q: You had actual grandmasters on set? That must have been intimidating.

A: In a way it's delicate when you have the masters on set. They don't know about film language, but they want to make it right. If Tony is going to be the Wing Chun master, all his moves should be strictly Wing Chun. It has to be precise and authentic. But all the masters said if they are really that good, they wouldn't fight for 15 minutes. It's only about one punch or one kick.

Q: That would make for some short action sequences.

A: It's like 5 seconds -- so fast you don't even see it. But it's impossible to make all these action scenes with one punch or one kick. So you have to analyze the moves to see the mechanics and the coordination of the body. A punch is not only about the fists. It's about the footwork, how to keep the balance of the body and movement to create the maximum power. So, it is in a way very technical and it has to be well planned.

Q: So then, what was the most challenging shot or sequence in translating the spirit of Wing Chun into your vision?

A: I think the most challenging one is two: the one at the beginning, the first action scene of Tony Leung. We shot it for a month! We all know Tony is a very good actor but for sure the audience will have questions if he can fight, so we wanted to make sure it works. We shot in a city that is in the southern part of China and we shot for a month to do that. Before we shot this scene, Tony asked who is the one I'm going to fight with. And I just said, "you'll see." Finally, when they are on set, he realizes the one he's going to fight with is Cung Le, the world champion of kickboxing. He looked at me, and I said, if you can manage with Cung Le, the audience will be fine.

Q: That's about as authentic as it gets.

A: Yes, and I think it's very convincing. The other one was the scene with Zhang Ziyi on the train station. That was very tricky. We shot on location in a very remote town in the north. It's minus 20 and we have to shoot there for two months. It's amazing and extremely hard because we can only get a few set-ups every night because it's too cold! But it's worth it. It's one of the most beautiful actions scenes.

Q: It's stunning. And the emotion elevates the whole fight. In fact, I have to ask: what is it about regret and loss that intrigues you so? It's like the unifying thread of all your films.

A: Yes, it's something that's come up, even for this film. Some people say it's also a love story but I would say it's more than a love story. The nature of the attraction between Gong Er and Ip Man is not just physical. In fact, it's kind of a mutual admiration. It's like two chess grandmasters having a game together. There are certain things that -- they find a comrade only in each other. At the end of the film, when they have this long goodbye, it's not just a farewell with a lover or friend or comrade. It's also a farewell to his history and his life. In most kung fu films you have to create a bad guy. But in this film what makes these two a hero is they are not fighting with a person, they are fighting with time. They are fighting the ups and downs of their lives.

Q: That sounds like the theme for all your movies!

A: (Laughs) I'm not conscious about that, but I'm still the one who makes the films, so I see the connection.

Q: I humbly point that out. In fact, Ip Man's motto for Kung Fu is two words: horizontal; vertical. All that matters is who's left standing. Do you have a similar motto for moviemaking?

A: Well, I think that motto can apply to everything and anyone. You have to be the last one standing.

Q: Even as a filmmaker?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: Speaking of legacy, I wonder if you've seen any movies from young filmmakers lately that excited you.

A: Yes, there's many films coming out of China and India; I think there's something really exciting there. And when you look at today the different platforms and different mediums for filmmakers... You don't have to be making features; you can also do TV and short films on the Internet. I think it's an exciting time.

Q: Is there a particular film or filmmaker that's stoked grandmasterly appreciation in you?

A: First, you must understand, in the traditional sense, you can only call a person a Grandmaster when he passes away.

Q: I'm sorry! I take it back: you're not a Grandmaster! (Yet.) How about, is there any movie lately in which you've seen a spark of yourself?

A: I was the president of the jury of the Berlinale this year and there's a Romanian filmmaker who made a film that got the Golden Bear. [Child's Pose from director Calin Peter Netzer]. I think it's an amazing film and he's an amazing talent.

Q: One last question... just because Fallen Angels is one of my favorite films. I think it may have your only hint of a happy ending for Takeshi Kaneshiro and Michelle Reis. Is that so? Or is there another film about their heartbreak, too?

A: I think there's so many possibilities. When you make a film, it's always about when to stop. You stop at the point that you still have a lot to be imagined for the audience. They can complete the film in their minds. I think that's the perfect end for a film.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

‘The Grandmaster’ Actor Tony Leung on Searching for Ip Man
By Amelia Pang, Epoch Times | August 15, 2013

NEW YORK—There is no record of Ip Man’s life before he went to Hong Kong.

At first Tony Leung, the actor who plays Ip Man in the 2013 film “The Grandmaster,” thought his character’s story would remain a mystery, that is, until he came across a photo that seemed to explain how Ip Man became the grand kung fu master who would teach Bruce Lee.

“There was something in his eyes and his faint smile that said he was a man who had vast wisdom, and that he had worked hard for it,” Leung said during an interview in Manhattan on Aug 13.

Although Ip Man is known as one of Southern China’s most accomplished martial artists, he lived a difficult life in Hong Kong.

Ip Man had fought with the Chinese Nationalist Party and left for Hong Kong in 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party took power.

In Hong Kong, Ip Man did not have enough long-term students to earn a steady income. Leung learned from one of Ip Man’s former students that the grandmaster slept without a comforter during winter.

“I knew that this was the life that he lived when that photo was taken…I wondered how Ip Man could still have such dignity,” he said. “He was an extraordinary man. I really wanted to understand how he became the man that he was.”

“I thought, perhaps he was a very optimistic man. But it must not have been just that,” Leung said. “It must have been something spiritual he found in kung fu that taught him how to deal with life.”

The film’s director Wong Kar Wai required his lead actors to learn kung fu for three years before they started shooting. Co-star Chang Chen even won a national kung fu tournament as a result of training for the movie.

Leung trained with one of Ip Man’s direct disciples. Through extensive research and excruciating training, he learned that martial arts was not merely a perfection of techniques, and that Ip Man did not become great because of his physical ability.

“After practicing three months you can master basic techniques, but not the spiritual aspect of it. It’s one of those things that takes a lifetime to acquire,” Leung said.

Although the original script was written in 2001, Wong spent years knocking on more than 100 kung fu masters’ doors across China in an attempt to grasp the depth of martial arts.

Historically, kung fu is heavily influenced by Taoist and Buddhist philosophies.

“Real kung fu is actually a training for your mind,” Leung said. “It’s very spiritual, I was very interested in that aspect of it.”

Although no records exist of Ip Man’s earlier life, Leung said he knew Ip Man’s achievements came from the spiritual depth he gained from practicing kung fu.

“Kung Fu is not merely a fighting technique or something that promotes health. It’s a philosophy and spiritual inspiration that can be applied in life,” he said. “And that was how Ip Man was able to deal with the hardships in his life.”

Leung said he believes a part of the reason Bruce Lee was such a significant figure in martial arts was his different way of looking at kung fu, much of which was inspired by Ip Man.

“At first, I didn’t understand why Wang Kar Wai wanted me to merge Bruce Lee’s character with Ip Man’s,” Leung said.

“Ip Man’s greatness didn’t lie in his physical ability; he was great because of his particular way of of thinking of and understanding of kung fu,” he said. “Later, I learned that Bruce Lee was deeply influenced by Ip Man.”

About the Film

In contrast with other Ip Man films, “The Grandmaster” has little gore; instead, it focuses on the haunting beauty of kung fu fight scenes, which are allegories for the philosophy of martial arts and its connection to life.

The movie is set in the 1930s. It tells the story of kung fu masters challenging each other for the title of Grandmaster as the previous one retires.

The film concentrates on the end of an era in Chinese martial arts history as the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out.

The fight scenes in “The Grandmaster” were choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping, who was the mastermind behind the kung fu scenes in The Matrix.

“The Grandmaster” debuted in Taiwan on Jan. 10. The film will be released on Aug. 23 in Los Angeles and New York, and on Aug. 30 nationwide.

“I feel that this is not only a film about kung fu … It also encompasses the culture of Chinese kung fu, that time period’s traditions, as well as its beauty,” Leung said.

“These are things that we had lost for a long time. We hope that Westerners can come in touch with our traditional culture [through this film],” he said.

Ben Hedges contributed to this report.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Win free passes to see The Grandmaster in DC
Clacked by Chuck Duncan on Wednesday, August 14, 2013

CliqueClack has partnered with The Weinstein Company and Allied Integrated Marketing to offer readers in the DC area a chance to attend an advance screening of the film The Grandmaster which tells the story of Ip Man, the legendary teacher of Bruce Lee. The screening will be held on Wednesday, August 21, 7:30 PM at Landmark E Street Cinema. To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment below telling us why you want to see this film. 20 winners will be selected at random and awarded a unique GoFoBo code good for up to two Admit One passes. Please read and follow the official rules …

ONE entry per person and/or email address. All duplicate entries will be disqualified, so only enter once!
Make sure your email address is entered correctly. We are not responsible for any misspellings, and we cannot award you with an incorrect email address.
Contest will run until 6:00 PM, Sunday, August 18.
Winners should plan to arrive early. Passes do not guarantee you seats. CliqueClack has no control over the number of tickets distributed or seating at the theater.

Have a look at the official trailer, and tell us why you want to see this film. The Grandmaster opens in DC Friday, August 30th.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ziyi Zhang

The star of Wong Kar Wai’s 'The Grandmaster' talks being a role model, finding inner strength, and how being a movie star nothing compared to being a martial artist.

August 14, 2013 6:15 PM | by Vanessa Lawrence

Blockbuster season has received a bit of a blow this year, with movies like Pacific Rim, The Lone Ranger and Man of Steel falling flat, at least as far as the critics are concerned. This being August, it’s a bit late for a dark horse to swoop in, but if there was ever a contender, it might be The Grandmaster, the latest film by Wong Kar Wai. Of course anyone familiar with the Chinese director’s work knows that he is not exactly a king of explosions. And Grandmaster is not your typical action movie: a biopic of sorts about the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung), who was Bruce Lee’s mentor, the movie follows in sweeping, beautifully shot scenes his journey from a North-South martial arts schism through the Sino-Japanese war and his arrival in Hong Kong. Equally present is Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang), a feisty daughter of the reigning Northern grandmaster who dedicates her life to avenging her father’s death.

Tuesday night, at the film’s New York premiere, hosted by the Weinstein Company and sponsored by Deleon Tequila and Dolby, we caught up with Zhang, 34, to chat training, female empowerment and why movie stardom means little to real a grandmaster.

Q & A (Questions & Answers):

Q: The last time you worked with Wong Kar Wai it was for the film 2046. This is so different. Did you ever think you’d be doing a martial arts movie with him?

A: No, never. In the beginning he asked me to do this part and he just told me he had some ideas and you will like it. So I said okay. And I joined. I had no idea it would take three years to finish

Q: I was told you did all your own stunts. Did you do very intensive training in preparation?

A: Yeah. Before we started shooting we took half a year to do the training. And it was like six hours a day. And I had three martial arts masters to torture me. And in the beginning it was so funny, they were so nice and friendly because they thought “movie star!” But after a few days, movie star didn’t mean anything to them anymore. So even when I was crying it didn’t help. But I guess Wong Kar did it because he wanted us to really become martial artists. Sometimes you don’t have to fight, you stand there and you are one. That’s why he wanted us to understand the character more.

Q: One of your breakout roles was in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and I’m sure you had a lot of training for that. How did this compare?

A: That was my second movie. And I have to say I think now I’ve matured a lot. I understand martial arts more than before. In Crouching Tiger there’s some strength and youth that can never come back because that’s the age.

Q: You’re still so young!

A: I’m saying that because at that age [Zhang was 21 at the time] I didn’t know much about anything, but I knew I wanted to do a good job because I didn’t want Ang Lee to regret choosing me. Here this character still has that perseverance and the strength inside of the Crouching Tiger character, that’s the similarities. But on the other hand she’s mature, she’s a grown up woman.

Q: It was such a prevailing theme in this movie—the idea that because you’re a woman your character shouldn’t be able to do certain things, like practicing martial arts or avenging your father’s death. Is that a notion you related to in real life?

A: I think I treasure that part of this movie because first of all, in the film business there are not many parts like this for women. That’s just the reality. We have the ability, we work equally hard as men, why couldn’t we have better roles? And also in real life in China, women have to take care of their husbands, they don’t go to work, they raise the kids. But I think the message Gong Er delivered to the audience isn’t one that only the Chinese audience understands. You guys in America, everybody understands that. I like it when girls are stronger and stronger—they try to know who they are, they try to be independent. That’s the part I like.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m doing a John Woo movie. It’s a disaster at sea. But not only about disaster because it’s during 1949 and that’s a very special time for China, so it’s a very interesting script.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Grandmaster’s Tony Leung Sheds Light On Wong Kar-wai’s ‘Adventurous’ Methods
By Philana Woo
Published: August 14, 2013

Hong Kong leading man Tony Leung and director Wong Kar-wai partner for the seventh time on The Grandmaster, which held its New York premiere last night. The Hong Kong-Chinese martial arts drama is based on the life of kung fu master Ip Man (Leung), respected for popularizing the Wing Chun school and famous for teaching Bruce Lee.

Best known internationally for his portrayal of a chain-smoking, suit-wearing, lovelorn journalist in an earlier Wong film In The Mood For Love (2000), for which he won best actor at Cannes Film Festival, Leung, 51, has in fact enjoyed critical and commercial success in a highly prolific singing and acting career spanning three decades, over a dozen studio albums, 80 films, and some of the most popular television series of the 80’s and 90’s.

Jing Daily joined in conversation with Leung, who is in town to promote The Grandmaster. Look below for his comments on a wide range of topics, including what it’s like to work with Wong.

Translated from Chinese.

On the literally unspoken chemistry between Wong Kar-wai and the actor:

“It’s a bit funny between us. We don’t interact much. In the two decades we’ve worked together, we’ve probably seen each other no more than twenty times off set. We don’t usually speak on set either.”

On how this project differed from previous ones with Wong Kar-wai, notorious for working off-script:

“The unique aspect of this film was that I had a historical figure to base my character on. I also did a lot of research. This was one of the most pleasant collaborations I have had with Wong because I had a very clear understanding of who I was from day one. For an actor, this is more enjoyable. Other than that, we’re the same as usual, seldom speaking.”

On whether The Grandmaster represents a shift from Wong’s more independent oeuvre and a desire to garner wider box office appeal:

“I don’t think so. I heard that Wong was inspired when he saw a photograph of Bruce Lee while filming Happy Together (1997) in Argentina. So it’s not for commercial or other reasons.”

On critiques that the film’s final version seems “unfinished” and characters are unevenly developed:

“Actually I think Wong has always worked this way. He tends to film in excess. For actors, the most enjoyable part is the filming process. The more you experience, the deeper your understanding of your character. So for actors, it’s interesting. But the final cut is up to the director. So we’re never quite sure about the plot because we don’t use a concrete script during filming. Sometimes we even forget what we’ve filmed because it’s been too long. That’s why I say that whenever I see a premiere, I’m no different from other members of the audience; I’m busy looking for scenes that were shot but may not appear in the film. But I think it’s ok, because this is his method.”

On how his Ip Man differs from other versions throughout film history:

“I’m sure every actor has a different approach to Ip Man. When Wong approached me to play Ip Man, it was a childhood dream come true. Like a lot of people from my generation, I idolized Bruce Lee and learned about Ip Man through him. Back then, my understanding of Bruce Lee and kung fu was very basic; kung fu was just a fighting technique and Bruce Lee was a fighting superstar. I always wanted to learn kung fu as a kid but my family didn’t allow it because back then it seemed like it was only for two kinds of people: future police and gangsters.

Wong wanted me to blend Bruce Lee and Ip Man. Through my research of the role, I was exposed to Bruce Lee’s teachings and mission, as well as the more spiritual aspects of kung fu. As a 4,000-year-old tradition, it is actually highly influenced by Zen and Daoism. Aside from being a physical training, it is also a training of the mind. A lot of philosophy and meditation. I found the spiritual elements very appealing.

This also helped me develop Ip Man’s character because there was very little information about his life before Hong Kong. At first I didn’t understand why Wong wanted me to merge Bruce Lee’s character with Ip Man. But then I realized that Bruce Lee was greatly influenced by Ip Man. Ip Man is great not for his physical ability, but his knowledge and vision of kung fu.

I think that when Ip Man was younger, he was charismatic, confident, and playful like Bruce Lee. That’s how I constructed him. He came from a wealthy family and didn’t have many responsibilities before the age of 40. He practiced kung fu for pleasure. The dramatic shift came when he moved to Hong Kong. My teacher, who was a student of his, told me about Ip Man’s difficult life. One winter, a student even lent him his comforter because he didn’t own one. Yet, in photos he is refined, like a scholar as opposed to a kung fu master. He has a dignified air and is smiling. But I knew the truth about his life. I wondered how he could display so much dignity in the face of hardship. Wong said that he was optimistic but I think it was the spiritual teachings of kung fu that helped him cope with life, and this was something I experienced in my own training. Kung fu isn’t just about fighting or health benefits, it’s a cultivation of the mind.

So to answer your question, I constructed his character as someone who persevered through tough times, aided by the spiritual cultivation of kung fu.”

On filming the opener, an epic fight scene in the rain:

“Initially, Wong wasn’t around and we filmed the opening scene with Yuen Woo-ping. I was wearing head-to-toe black. It was the end of summer, and we wrapped the shoot in just seven days. But after a while, Wong thought I should wear a white hat instead, so of course we had to reshoot. The final version took 40 nights in the rain and colder weather. On the thirtieth day, I told Wong that I didn’t think I could film anymore. He said ok, and then we filmed for ten more days.”

On the history lesson he gained while filming:

“It was the first time I was exposed to Republican Era martial arts novels.”

On seeing his hero in a new light:

“I have a newfound appreciation for my childhood idol Bruce Lee.”

On working with Ang Lee versus Wong Kar-wai:

“I appreciate and respect both. Our partnerships are different. Wong’s working process is more adventurous. It’s a different kind of challenge. If you ask Lee for something, he’ll provide you with it and more. So before you start filming, you’ve already reached most of the character development, whereas with Wong, you can never be sure.”
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kung fu epic premieres in NYC
Updated: 2013-08-12 10:56
By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily)

Bringing The Grandmaster to the big screen was a 15-year labor of love for Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai.

"If you like kung fu movies, then you've come to the right place," Wong told the audience before the film's New York premiere. "If you don't like kung fu movies, then it's time to change."

The event was held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, and included a post-screening onstage interview with the director. A question and answer session with the audience followed, during which one audience member shouted from the second to last row that she had worked briefly for Wong on the film and was wondering if he would be her reference for her film school application.

"Talk to me after," the 57-year-old director sporting his signature sunglasses replied.

Wong Kar-wai is widely considered one of the most influential film directors of his generation, both inside and outside of Asia. Saturday's premiere was the centerpiece of a comprehensive retrospective of Wong's work, which began on July 12 and includes all ten of his feature films. Between now and Aug 24, the retrospective will wind up with screenings of My Blueberry Nights, In the Mood for Love and 2046.

Wong's latest feature, in which he seeks to reinvent the martial arts genre, reunites Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi, the stars of his science-fiction epic 2046. Neither actor has a background in martial arts, and both spent three years training for the film's fight sequences.

"I always wanted to make a kung fu film, but there are so many kung fu films made before me and so I had to find my angle," Wong said during the onstage interview.

The film tackles the story of Ip Man, played by 51-year-old Leung, who pioneered the popular Wing Chun fighting style and taught kung fu legend Bruce Lee.

In the film, Wong seeks to capture the nobility and formality of Chinese kung fu as it existed in the 1930s and '40s, as well as today with its competing schools and philosophies.

The director said he considered naming the film The Grandmasters, but his son talked him out of it, arguing that the film was more about the idea of what it takes to be a grandmaster than the grandmasters themselves.

Wong said he wanted to set the record straight on the Ip Man story, as opposed to merely dazzling audiences with another kung fu movie. The Grandmaster coincides with another Ip Man film released this year, Ip Man: The Final Fight, by Hong Kong director Herman Yau, who also directed The Legend Is Born: Ip Man (2010). Wong's film encountered many delays, including Leung breaking his arm during rehearsal and the day before his first shoot. Wong spent 22 months on a budget of $25 million to shoot the film.

Wong missed a number of release dates before The Grandmaster finally reached theaters on the Chinese mainland in January. The film is Wong's greatest commercial success to date, having earned more than $50 million worldwide. In China, it out-grossed his previous four features combined.

In contrast to Wong's usual free-form style of directing, the filmmaker insisted on strict historical accuracy in this film. After sifting through piles of books, journals and archival materials, including a home video the Ip family presented to Wong in their living room of Ip Man in his studio three days before his death, the filmmaker spent three years interviewing hundreds of mainland martial artists in preparation for the script he co-wrote. The resulting story includes many Ip Man proteges.

"To make this film is like a dream come true," Wong said. "I grew up on streets full of martial arts schools, but I was never allowed to practice martial arts."

When he was growing up, he said, martial arts schools were dark and mysterious and sometimes associated with the triad gangs - groups that became prevalent in Hong Kong during the 1960s and '70s. No parent would encourage their kid to practice martial arts, said Wong.

At the end of the film, a boy stares intently through the window to Ip Man's martial arts studio. "That could be Bruce Lee or that could be me because it was always my dream to walk through the door to find out what's so special, what's so mysterious about Chinese martial arts," Wong said. "With this film, I walked past this door and I find it very satisfying."
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wong Kar Wai Immerses Audiences in The Grandmaster with Dolby Atmos
August 12, 2013

Award-winning director presents Chinese martial arts story to US moviegoers

BEIJING & SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: DLB) and Jet Tone Production announced today that The Grandmaster will be the first Chinese movie mixed in Dolby(R) Atmos(TM) to be shown in the United States. Dolby Atmos is the new audio platform that revolutionizes sound in entertainment. The Grandmaster will be released theatrically in the United States on August 23 by the Weinstein Company.

The Grandmaster is directed by award-winning director Wong Kar Wai. "The Grandmaster is a Chinese kung fu story that is not only about physical fighting," the director said, "but also about such intangibles as chi, the mind, and the spirit, which are never easy concepts to express. I have been extremely impressed by the powerful enhancements to storytelling that Dolby Atmos makes possible. The Grandmaster in Dolby Atmos will use sound to transport audiences right into the film action."

The US version of The Grandmaster was mixed in Dolby Atmos by Kantana Sound Studio in Bangkok, Thailand, the first mixing studio equipped with Dolby Atmos in Southeast Asia. Traithep Wongpaiboon, Senior Vice President, Kantana Sound Studio, said: "Dolby Atmos is the most powerful sound technology we have ever used. With Dolby Atmos, the sound moves around and above the audiences, creating a soundfield so realistic that film audiences feel as if they are in the center of the action."

"We are delighted that internationally renowned director Wong Kar Wai chose to mix his latest picture in Dolby Atmos for the US release," said Mike Chao, Managing Director, Greater China, Dolby Laboratories. "Dolby Atmos brings a natural lifelike audio experience to movie theatres, giving filmmakers creative freedom to place and move sounds anywhere in the auditorium, including overhead, for added realism and impact."

"Dolby Atmos delivers the best next-generation audio experience for all film genres, including martial arts. We are very excited to be at the forefront of bringing a premium entertainment experience to moviegoers with The Grandmaster, featuring Dolby Atmos sound, and believe that this is a big step for us to help drive innovation in the cinema," said Erik Lomis, President of Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment for the Weinstein Company.

The Grandmaster stars Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang and was first released in mainland China on January 8, 2013. A Jet Tone Production, The Grandmaster will be distributed by the Weinstein Company to 800 screens in the United States, including select theatres equipped with Dolby Atmos technology.

About Dolby Atmos

Dolby Laboratories is equipping the cinema world with its new Dolby Atmos technology. Dolby Atmos unleashes the potential of sound in storytelling by providing filmmakers the creative freedom to easily place or move specific sounds anywhere in the movie theatre, not just where there happen to be speakers. The result is what moviegoers have described as the most engaging and lifelike cinema experience ever.

Introduced in April 2012, Dolby Atmos has been embraced by all the major Hollywood studios, six Academy Award(R) winning directors, and 10 Academy Award winning sound mixers, among others. More than 200 Dolby Atmos screens have been installed or committed to in 27 countries with more than 85 exhibitor partners. More than 60 films from nine different countries--representing a broad range of genres, from action thrillers and animated features, to comedy and horror--have been or are scheduled to be released with Dolby Amos sound since the first film debuted in June 2012. Dolby Atmos has received technical achievement awards from both the Hollywood Post Alliance and the Cinema Audio Society.

For the latest list of Dolby Atmos titles, visit To learn more about Dolby Atmos, visit


THE GRANDMASTER is the highly-anticipated new film by acclaimed director Wong Kar Wai. Six years in the planning and three years in the making, THE GRANDMASTER is an epic action feature inspired by the life and times of the legendary kung fu master, Ip Man. The story spans the tumultuous Republican era that followed the fall of China's last dynasty, a time of chaos, division and war that was also the golden age of Chinese martial arts. Filmed in a range of stunning locations that include the snow-swept landscapes of Northeast China and the subtropical South, THE GRANDMASTER features virtuoso performances by some of the greatest stars of contemporary cinema.

With THE GRANDMASTER, Wong Kar Wai has made a kung fu film like no other. Years of research before production and a virtual battalion of martial arts trainers on set ensured that THE GRANDMASTER portrays both the Chinese martial arts and the world of the martial artists with unprecedented authenticity, with fight scenes choreographed by renowned action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping (THE MATRIX, KILL BILL, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.) The trio of international superstars at the film's heart--Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, and Chang Chen--all underwent several years of rigorous and extremely challenging kung fu training for their roles.

Shot by French director of photography Philippe Le Sourd and with art direction by Wong's longtime collaborators William Chang Suk Ping and Alfred Yau Wai Ming, The Grandmaster represents a new chapter in the martial arts genre and in Wong Kar Wai's own stellar career.

About Dolby Laboratories

Dolby Laboratories (NYSE: DLB) is the global leader in technologies that are essential elements in the best entertainment experiences. Founded in 1965 and best known for high-quality audio and surround sound in environments from the cinema to the living room to mobile devices, Dolby creates innovations that enrich entertainment at the movies, at home, or on the go. For more information about Dolby Laboratories or Dolby technologies, please visit

About the Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company (TWC) is a multimedia production and distribution company launched in October 2005 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films in 1979. TWC also encompasses Dimension Films, the genre label founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, which has released such popular franchises as Scream, Spy Kids, and Scary Movie. Together TWC and Dimension Films have released a broad range of mainstream, genre and specialty films that have been commercial and critical successes. TWC releases took home eight 2012 Academy Awards(R), the most wins in the studio's history. The tally included Best Picture for Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist and Best Documentary Feature for TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay's Undefeated. The Artist brought TWC its second consecutive Best Picture statuette following the 2011 win for Tom Hooper's The King's Speech.

Since 2005, TWC and Dimension Films have released such films as Grindhouse; 1408; I'm Not There; The Great Debaters; Vicky Cristina Barcelona; The Reader; The Road; Halloween; The Pat Tillman Story; Piranha 3D; Inglourious Basterds; A Single Man; Blue Valentine; The Company Men; Miral; Scre4m; Submarine; Dirty Girl; Apollo 18; Our Idiot Brother; I Don't Know How She Does It; Sarah's Key; Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D; My Week with Marilyn; The Iron Lady; W.E.; Coriolanus; Undefeated; The Artist; Bully; The Intouchables; Lawless; Killing Them Softly; The Master; Silver Linings Playbook; Django Unchained; Quartet; Escape from Planet Earth; Dark Skies; The Sapphires; Scary Movie 5; and Kon-Tiki. Currently in release are Unfinished Song and Fruitvale Station. Upcoming releases include The Butler, The Grandmaster, and Salinger.

TWC is active in television production, led by former Miramax Films President of Production Meryl Poster. TWC is the studio behind such hit television series as the Emmy(R) nominated and Peabody Award winning reality series Project Runway and its spin-off series Project Runway All Stars and Project Accessory; the VH1 reality series Mob Wives and its spin-off series Mob Wives Chicago and Big Ang; and the critically acclaimed scripted HBO comedy/crime series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which also received a Peabody Award. The company is in production on the upcoming TLC series Welcome to Myrtle Manor, the A&E series Rodeo Queens, and the Lifetime reality competition show Supermarket Superstar, hosted by Stacy Keibler. Among TWC's other projects in development for television are the martial-arts epic Marco Polo for Starz, an untitled private eye procedural for FX, and The Nanny Diaries, developed by ABC with a pilot by Amy Sherman Palladino.

Dolby and the double-D symbol are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories. Dolby Atmos is a trademark of Dolby Laboratories. All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners. S13/27209 DLB-G

Dolby Laboratories APAC Running Xie, 86-21-6113-3461 Mobile: 86-138-0199-2141 or Dolby Laboratories Americas Grace Qaqundah, 415-558-0315 Mobile: 415-994-7805

Source: Dolby Laboratories, Inc.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Video: Martial arts movie 'The Grandmaster' 2nd trailer

By Can Tran
Jul 23, 2013

The newest trailer has been released for the upcoming US release of the martial arts movie called "The Grandmaster" which focuses on the life of Ip Man.
A new trailer has been streamed for the upcoming United States release of the martial arts movie called “The Grandmaster.” This trailer has a lot of combat sequences between actors Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang. The Grandmaster, starring Leung and Zhang, is due to be screened in theaters across the United States on August 23.
This is one of those martial arts movies that focuses on the life of Wing Chun master Ip Man who is known for being the primary let alone Wing Chun teacher of late martial arts action star Bruce Lee. In this trailer, it talks about how Ip Man made a legend of himself before training legends such as Lee. From what the trailer shows, The Grandmaster will have plenty of martial arts action sequences. If you are a fan of Kung-Fu films let alone anything pertaining to Ip Man, you may want to check out The Grandmaster this coming August.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'The Grandmaster' takes center stage
Updated: 2013-07-25 10:09
(China Daily)

HK director Wong Kar-wai stands together with Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, who is one of Wong's biggest fans, beside a poster of Wong's latest work The Grandmaster at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on July 22.

Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's critically acclaimed move, The Grandmaster, was given an advance screening by the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles on July 22, as part of the academy's celebration of kungfu films.

The movie's female lead, Zhang Ziyi, made a surprise appearance at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, to the delight of Wong and the audience. Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, one of Wong's biggest fans, hosted an onstage conversation with the director. Tickets for the event sold out quickly.

The Grandmaster tells the story of martial arts grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung), who trained kungfu and movie legend Bruce Lee. As he seeks to perfect his practice of the fighting style Wing Chun, Ip collides with another determined kungfu master, Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), during the Japanese invasion of China in 1936 and the tumultuous years that follow.

The cast also includes Wang Qingxiang, Chang Chen and Song Hye Kyo, as well as hundreds of Asia's top martial artists.

Wong is known for his unique sense of style and emotionally resonant work. As the first Chinese director to win the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his 1997 film Happy Together, Wong has been called a "poet of time" by Sight & Sound magazine and "perhaps the most revered and singular of Hong Kong auteurs" by The New York Times.

Other films by Wong include Chungking Express, 2046 and his first English-language film, My Blueberry Nights, which starred Jude Law and Norah Jones in her acting debut.

The Grandmaster was released in China earlier this year and will hit US theaters on Aug 23.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Academy to Host Wong Kar Wai & Advance Screening of THE GRANDMASTER Tonight

Monday, July 22, 2013; 12:07 AM - by Movies News Desk

The Academy's summer-long celebration of kung fu continues with a salute to writer-director Wong Kar Wai and an advance screening of his film "The Grandmaster," about the martial arts grand master who trained Bruce Lee tonight, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Writer-director Matthew Weiner will host the evening, which features an onstage conversation with Wong. The Academy's current Grand Lobby exhibition "KICK ASS! Kung Fu Posters from the Stephen Chin Collection" will be open with extended viewing hours after the screening. Tickets for the event are sold out. A standby line will form on The Day of the event, and any available tickets will distributed shortly before the program.

Hong Kong-based filmmaker Wong Kar Wai is known for his unique sense of style and emotionally resonant work. The first Chinese director to win the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his 1997 film "Happy Together," Wong has been called a "poet of time" by Sight & Sound and "perhaps the most revered and singular of Hong Kong auteurs" by The New York Times.

His other films include "Chungking Express," "Fallen Angels," "In the Mood for Love," "2046" and his first English-language film, "My Blueberry Nights," which starred Norah Jones in her acting debut.

"The Grandmaster" tells the story of martial arts Grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung), who trained Bruce Lee. As he seeks to perfect his practice of the fighting style Wing Chun, Ip Man collides with another determined kung fu master, Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang), during the Japanese invasion of China in 1936 and the tumultuous years that follow. The cast also includes Wang Qingxiang, Chang Chen, Xiao Shengyang and Song Hye Kyo, as well as hundreds of Asia's top martial artists.

The film has already been released in China and will hit U.S. theaters on August 23.

The Grand Lobby exhibition "Kick Ass! Kung Fu Posters from the Stephen Chin Collection" will be open for viewing after the screening.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the Mood for Mood: 'Wong Kar-Wednesdays' Start Tonight at Belcourt
Posted by Jim Ridley on Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

In anticipation of the Aug. 23 opening of the martial-arts epic The Grandmaster — a title Country Life believes could be applied to its director, Wong Kar-Wai — The Belcourt is screening a different Wong film every Wednesday. Subsequent "Wong Kar-Wednesdays" will feature 1995's Fallen Angels (Aug. 14) and the "Redux" version of 1994's Ashes of Time (Aug. 21). But the series starts 7:20 tonight with one of Wong's most gorgeous films, 2000's In the Mood for Love. This review originally appeared in the April 5, 2001 Scene.

The signature shot of Wong Kar-Wai’s recent movies is a person sitting in isolation as the rest of the world rushes by. In Chungking Express, the 1994 movie that served as the Hong Kong director’s introduction to American audiences, a lovelorn cop gazes out the window of a diner. As passersby whirl past in accelerated motion, like electrons that register only as indistinct blurs, he alone remains at rest. From the outside perspective — ours — time whizzes by on triple fast-forward. From his standpoint — that of someone stuck in romantic misery — every moment is endless. Has there ever been a better depiction of how it feels to be sick in love and hopelessly bummed-out?

If there is, it’s in Wong’s new movie, a romantic reverie called, with perfect summation of content, In the Mood for Love. But let’s go back for a second to Wong’s previous movies. Visually, his last few films — Chungking Express, its 1995 follow-up Fallen Angels, and 1997’s Happy Together — are some of the most kinetic movies of recent years. When the world isn’t a smudge of sped-up motion, the camera dashes headlong down sidewalks, or careens through restaurant corridors, or hustles the characters along by the collar. But the dizzying speed doesn’t create momentum. Instead, it slows his movies to a crawl — as if time zooms by so quickly that it leaves us reeling, as dazed watchers of our own lives. Those blurs out the window — they’re the connections we’ll never make, the people we’ll never meet, the love flashed before us like a vanishing veil.

Those strobe-lit moments appear as languid slow-motion in Wong’s new film, a mesmerizing, mood-altering meditation on attraction and desire set in 1962 Hong Kong. The movie could be enjoyed as nothing more (or, I’d argue, nothing less) than an hour-and-a-half of ravishingly gorgeous images with two glamorous actors at the center—something The Mexican couldn’t even deliver with its Hoover Dam of starpower. But if Wong’s previous movies captured the warp speed of alienation, the pretty pictures in his new film are indelibly frozen moments. They’re glimpses of a time in the characters’ lives that’s more vivid, more present, than anything that came before or after. The intensity of those glimpses makes for an overwhelming moviegoing experience.

The protagonists of In the Mood for Love couldn’t miss each other if they tried: They’re hemmed into adjacent rooms in an overcrowded Hong Kong apartment building. In one room, newspaper editor Mr. Chow (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) waits most nights for his wife to come home from working late. Down the hall, his neighbor Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung), a secretary, eats alone while her husband travels frequently outside the country. The reason for their absences gradually dawns on their partners: They’re having an affair together.

Confused and hurt, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan begin to meet in secret, tentatively tracing the steps that might have led to the betrayal. Ironically, while their spouses carry out a fling in distant privacy, the wounded parties are the ones who must worry about the prying eyes of coworkers and landlords: They meet in restaurants, where dining — usually a private act — affords some measure of public cover. Soon they have reason to hide. After acting out scenarios of how two married people might have fallen in love, Mr. Chow confesses to Mrs. Chan, “Now I know.”

Their reticence makes this PG-rated film beyond question the sexiest movie around. In the Mood for Love takes its visual rhythms from the slow-motion sway of Maggie Cheung’s hips, set to the teasing pulse of Nat King Cole’s Spanish-language sambas. Cheung, the stunning star of Actress and The Heroic Trio, has been outfitted in a spectacular array of form-fitting dresses whose tight, high collars reach for the jaw line: If the dresses always remind us of her body, they also represent constant repression — the pressure to conceal. The erotic tension is a haze. The cinematographers, Christopher Doyle (Chungking Express) and Mark Li Ping-bin (Flowers of Shanghai), emphasize the nearness of the could-be lovers, who pass each other in narrow hallways in a succession of exquisite near-misses. We ache for the moment when their lips will touch, when they’ll become the rare people in Wong Kar-Wai’s world to connect.

But do they? The question hangs, like the wisps of slo-mo smoke from Mr. Chow’s cigarettes. It’s even there in the refrain murmured by Nat King Cole, “Quizás, quizás, quizás” — perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. The movie’s scenes are strung with ellipses. Sometimes, as critic Kent Jones notes, Cheung’s change of dresses is the only sign that time has passed. The period the movie covers is an intense blur — weeks morphed by memory into ebbs and flows of desire and regret.

If the movie’s unanswered questions are somewhat exasperating, they only reinforce the poignant transience of Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan’s bond. In old days, Mr. Chow remarks at one point, lovers would whisper a secret into a hole in a wall and seal it away forever. In a haunting coda, the camera wends its way through walls containing centuries of those concealed whispers. The loves that sparked them were long since wiped away by time, the relentless force that surges through all Wong Kar-Wai’s movies. In this beautiful, tantalizing, and perhaps unknowable film, only the secrets remain.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MFA Is ‘In The Mood’ For Wong Kar-wai

The Museum of Fine Arts is having a grand year with international imports. After closing out its popular French Film Festival, the MFA will play host to the works of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai Aug. 1-25. As part of the Hong Kong Second Wave, Wong stands out with his films’ controlled color palettes, soulful lighting, creative editing, and attention to detail. He uses his tools so well that his work is an ideal choice for a museum to showcase the art of film.

One of his most popular films, “In the Mood for Love,” which plays Aug. 16 and 18, is also a picture-perfect introduction to Wong’s work. Starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung (who now goes by his full name, Tony Leung Chiu Wai), the film follows the tale of two working couples, neighbors in an apartment building in Hong Kong during the conservative 1960s. Mrs. Su’s (Cheung), husband is always away on long business trips, while Mr. Chow’s wife works long days and comes home late each night. Mrs. Su and Mr. Chow find themselves alone in their respective apartments, until happenstance allows a friendship to kindle. But with whispers of their neighbors’ gossip, worries arise about dishonoring themselves. The friendship is broken, and the chance encounters that had once fueled their relationship are gone.

It’s soul-stirring in a slow-burning way. There are no explosive emotional outbursts, nor any turns toward violence. “In the Mood for Love” is grounded in a quiet sadness of acceptance. It was an idealized time, a romanticized moment in their lives that passes by in a matter of months. We’re left with the “what if” just as much as Chow and Su. With Wong’s musicality, montages of, for example, Chow and Su trekking out to get dinner from the noodle cart on their own elicit their own special melancholy.

Songs like “I’m in the Mood for Love” and the Spanish version of the classic rumba, “Perhaps, Perhaps” add to the potential twist Chow and Su’s relationship could have taken. When the two are in the same space it’s almost always at night, and the setting is bathed in a warm, red glow symbolizing the growing affection. While the two lonely hearts are at work, their faces seem washed out by the fluorescent lights above, highlighting their misery. Such a subtle touch to depict silent anguish.

The other parts of Wong’s romance trilogy, “Days of Being Wild” and “2046,” will play alongside the rest of his filmography. And good news for cinephiles, many of his works will be presented on 35 millimeter film, so you can enjoy the full effect of his craft. Wong’s latest, “The Grandmaster,” starring the aforementioned Leung and Zhang Ziyi of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “House of Flying Daggers” fame will premiere Aug. 15.

Monica Castillo is a freelance film critic and writer based in Boston. You can usually find her outside any of the area’s movie theaters excitedly talking about the film she just saw, or on Twitter @mcastimovies.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martial arts elbowing into Hollywood's biggest films
Aug. 2, 2013

Everybody in Hollywood is kung fu fighting this summer.

Films showcasing Asian martial arts were once relegated to grindhouse theaters and niche markets, but the genre is enjoying a subtle resurgence in the mainstream. Major studio tentpole films are using kung fu to woo American kids raised on anime, and they're luring Asian kids by showcasing action heroes from that part of the planet.

Hollywood's fascination continues with The Grandmaster (due Aug. 23), a drama about Ip Man, the martial-arts master who trained Bruce Lee. Keanu Reeves becomes a samurai in 47 Ronin (Dec. 25). And last week, the Weinstein Co. announced that it was remaking two martial-arts classics from more than 30 years ago, The Avenging Eagle and Come Drink With Me (no release dates yet).

Studio executives say Japan and China have become titans at the international box office, and films have had titles and scenes altered to sell overseas. Disney and Marvel Studios added four minutes to Iron Man 3to include Fan Bingbing and Wang Xueqi, both Chinese stars, against a Chinese background.

Chris Aronson, 20th Century Fox's president of distributions, says the studio wasn't catering to an overseas crowd in setting The Wolverine in Japan. He says the backdrop "comes straight from an X-Men comic book" that featured the Silver Samurai. And the martial-arts infusion, he says, "was just to expand Wolverine's skill set for the fans."

But authors and academics say there's more to it.

"I think the resurgence is definitely meant to pander to animefans, international markets and our nation's ongoing fascination with Asian culture," says Brad Ricca, author of Super Boys, a biography of the creators of Superman.

Aging fanboys are also behind the surge, he says. "These films are appearing because the directors and producers were raised on this fare and only now are in a position to make them as passion projects. Del Toro is an unabashed monster aficionado."

As China becomes a bigger player at the box office, "it's inevitable for American films to feature this 'fusion' culture," says Sang Nam, associate professor of communications at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. "Previously, American culture was Euro-centric. Now, the Chinese are coming."

Some welcome the invasion. Jeremy Conrad, editor of, says the Asian influence "is natural, given fanboys were raised on Bruce Lee movies and Kung Fu TV episodes."

He says that martial arts, "when they're done right, look great in a movie. It's ballet. We love that stuff."

Copyright 2013

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reel life of Ip Man
Posted on 1 August 2013 - 04:39pm
Eric Kelsey

HONG KONG director Wong Kar Wai, best known for pensive dramas Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love, explores the life of Wing Chun kung fu master Ip Man in a new film, The Grandmaster, which will be released on Aug 23 in the United States.

The film tells the story of Ip – the trainer of kung fu film icon Bruce Lee – played by Wong’s longtime actor Tony Leung (right).

The story spans from his adulthood in 1930s’ southern China to his Hong Kong exile after Mao’s communist revolution in 1949.

Wong (right), 57, spoke with Reuters about the meaning of kung fu, his exile and writing a fictional love story into Ip’s life in the form of Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi as Gong Er, the daughter of a kung fu grandmaster.

What motivated you to make a film about Ip Man?

“To make a kung fu film in my way. I see today there’s a lot (of) misconceptions or misinterpretations about some of these Chinese things, and one of them is the Chinese martial arts.

“The reason I wanted to make a film about Ip Man is because I believe a lot of people follow Chinese kung fu or martial arts films due to Bruce Lee.”

How well-known is Ip Man, who died at age 79 in 1972, in Hong Kong today?

“He’s not that popular, but he’s very respected in the world of martial arts and in the case of Bruce Lee, he has become a legend.

“Once I knew I wanted to make a film about him, I had a meeting with both of his sons, and they showed me this short film shot three days before he passed away. ...

“He was doing demonstrations (in the film) of the Wing Chun combinations. He was 70-something, very skinny, very weak, and he’s doing this demonstration with a dummy in the living room.”

What did you make of that film?

“It’s very intriguing why he wanted to do this, because we all know that this combination is very, very legendary. It’s the core technique of the Wing Chun combat skill.

“We watched this film – now you can find it on YouTube – but at that time, it was almost like a secret. What I think he intended to do is … he wanted to preserve his technique so it can be shared and taught to future generations.”

How is your film different from other kung fu films?

“I haven’t seen any film talking about the legacy. I’ve never seen a film that is so honest to the value of Chinese martial arts. I haven’t seen many films that are serious about the technique. ...

“Everyone says Wing Chun is very good with the hands, but they don’t know that actually the secret is in the footwork.”

The film is also a frustrated love story between Ip Man and Gong Er. What aspect of that storyline intrigued you?

“I think it’s more than just a physical or standard love story, because, in a way, they’re also both great martial artistes.

“I don’t know if it’s mutual attraction or mutual admiration, because when you talk to a martial artiste, he can be a very normal guy or old man, nothing special.

“But once they’re doing a demonstration, they are different persons.”

Your films strongly emphasise place. What role does it play in the relationship of Ip Man and Gong Er, who both emigrate to Hong Kong?

“They lose everything and the only thing that’s common between these two people are the memories of their fighting and their skills and their passions toward martial arts.”

What is particularly about this period, World War II and Mao’s revolution, that resonated with you?

“This story tells you a lot about what is Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a place for all these immigrants after the war.”

You were born in Shanghai but moved to Hong Kong at the age of five. Do you feel like an immigrant yourself?

“We are the second generation. We can feel the sentiments of an exile from our previous generations.

“They’re living in Hong Kong, but they’re living in their own world. They’re living with the same traditions, the same habit as before, and so in fact, it’s interesting for me to make this film.

“All the films I made before are about this generation. In the Mood for Love is about the people of the first generation, and [how] they’re stuck in Hong Kong and how to adapt to this new life.” – Reuters
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